I’m an illustrator and I decided to go on the Experiments in Paint and Print course to learn new drawing, painting and print techniques that would challenge and develop my work. I was excited at the idea of being in a classroom without computer screens and with a focus on practical skills. I also wanted to reconnect with all things analogue and perhaps gather some ideas for a new exhibition. I was drawn to this course in particular because it was described as experimental and covered a wide range of methods.
The course was most certainly challenging but also a great deal of fun. I think part of the challenge for me was that I’m used to the well-worn techniques that I use on a daily basis and I was out of my comfort zone quite a lot of the time. It was this removal from my usual surroundings and tools however that was so invigorating and refreshing and meant that I had to push myself into new directions. I re-learned the importance of keeping a sketchbook and how some of the best stuff that you make happens on those pages –it’s also a tangible record of your creative process.
Our time in the studio was split in to two nine-week blocks: the first block covered techniques and practical skills and the second block acted as a period of self-directed work where we could focus on our personal projects, utilising the new skills that we’d learnt. The methods that we covered included: experimental drawing exercises, watercolour, acrylic, mono printing, reductive lino printing and collage. We were encouraged to make use of the GSA library and archives and to look at the work of a range of significant twentieth and twenty-first century artists for inspiration and context.
The atmosphere in the studio was warm and sociable but also focussed and peaceful. Cathy was a very attentive tutor, really invested in each individual student and full of valuable feedback. Cathy is a colour expert and that was one of the most useful things that I learnt from her - listening to how she talked about colour, regardless of medium, and how passionate she was about it. She made me think more critically about the colour in my work and how vital it is, alongside line, composition and mixing up your mediums.
Having one day a week to learn and experiment was invaluable for my practice. It gave me headspace to think a little more objectively about my projects and how I was working on them, and reminded me about the value of play and experimentation in keeping your work fresh and alive. It was also really great to have a room of fellow students who you could bounce ideas off, laugh with and be inspired by.
Taking part in the course has changed the way that I work – I’m using colour much more attentively, painting is no longer the scary thing that it once was and collage has become a huge part of what I do. It has been a great thing for me to take part in as professional development – time out, learning new skills, meeting new people and leaving with a portfolio of new ideas.
Alice Dansey-Wright took the course Experiments in Paint and Print with Cathy Campbell during the Continuing Education Autumn/Spring Programme 2015/2016.
You can find out more about her practice here: cargocollective.com/alicedanseywright